How Casual Cyber Sex Became My Most Intoxicating Drug
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I would still have been a sex addict without the Internet, but it’s hard for me to picture because those two tweaky compulsions are so tightly wrapped together for me. I even discovered my sexuality and the World Wide Web at the same time.
I was 13 in 1995 when we finally went online at my house. It would be another six or seven years before I fully embraced the Internet’s ability to bring me a steady flow of anonymous sex partners. But from the moment I first heard those dulcet dial-up tones and the hopeful purr that followed, the online experience was tinged with sexual possibility.
I remember signing into a Prodigy chat room and communicating with another purported teenager whose screen name was “slyweasel13.” My mother stayed seated next to me at the computer desk, so the chatting never turned explicit, but it was loaded with flirty winking emoticons that left me panting.
Before the first dis-inhibiting sips of alcohol allowed me to go on dates with these guys, the Internet enabled me to talk to them, and maybe more thrillingly, to remake myself in the image of someone boys would want to talk to. Online, I wasn’t overweight, nearsighted, brace-faced and lacking in social skills. I was a sexual being capable of courting and receiving male attention. This was to become my most intoxicating drug.
The Internet is a dangerous place for any sex addict, but for female sex addicts, there is the extra appeal of judgment-free access to an endless stream of sex partners willing to offer intimacy, flattery, money and whatever else it takes to get our attention. While straight men may attempt to use the Internet this way, they're bound to meet with more resistance, based on the rules of sexual supply and demand. Men seeking anonymous casual sex more often have to pay for it, or at least put in a significant amount of effort.
As a woman, my ads could have said nothing but “ooga booga,” and as long as I included my gender, I probably still would have gotten responses. Ads placed by women net hundreds of responses—as confirmed by the six women I interviewed for this article (whose names have been changed)—while men are lucky if they receive one that isn't sexual spam of the "Look at my porn site" variety. If straight men could use these sites like women do, I believe they would, as evidenced by the fact that gay men do, on sites like Grindr and Manhunt.
The “Internet boyfriend” is a rite of passage among women of my generation, especially those of us who were bullied or otherwise given to low self-esteem. Many of my female friends report finding comfort as adolescents in the attentions of older men saying nice things to them in chat rooms.
I don’t see many women in my sex recovery meetings, but I saw them online, noticed their offers of easy, no-strings-attached sex or glimpsed their shadows in my partners’ stories. I even met a few of them in person when I escalated to group sex and prostitution.
While my own first interactions were limited to the virtual world, 22-year-old Carly started using the Internet to meet men in person at age 15. “I was always a chubby kid and it was a place where I went to find men who were attracted to me," she says. "On a very regular basis I made arrangements to meet with men who were significantly older than I was.” She describes trysts at hotels, in cars and once at her home.